Unethical business by a major Western client (went straight to translators)
Thread poster: Uldis Liepkalns

Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 02:27
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
May 31, 2005

For about 3 years we have done all Latvian translations for a major Western Company (I'd say there are no a person around who hadn't heard their name) via Lithuanian Agency, which got the right to do their translations for all
Baltic States.

From the beginning- we assigned translators, teached them certain CAT tool, terminology and things, in short, we put into it not so small a job.
Then from October last year till January this year there was made a major update of the TM -more than 100 hours work on that alone. Then in this March a person from Company Headquarters, on pretext on transferring from the old CAT tool to its more advanced version, undertook a tour of Baltic Countries and in ultimate form demanded direct meetings with translators-
to teach them the new CAT tool. We had nothing to do but agree... OK, Lithuanian Agency owner packed the Client in his car and took him to Riga,then to Tallinn. Since then for 2 months *ALL* contacts with Latvian and Estonian translators the Client has carried out directly- about new jobs I got wise only from my translators and my *direct client*- Lithuanian
Agency- in turn from me. The same in Estonia.

So it went until a few days ago, when the Client told Lithuanian Agency that in future they will work with Latvian and Estonian translators directly and their services for that are no longer necessary.

I guess you understand our shock, but nothing we can do there legally- 3 years ago, when we signed all the standard agreements, my Direct client was a Lithuanian Agency, so translators signed they will not overstep me to work with my client, Lithuanians have their agreement with the Client- again saying the Client will not work with me overstepping the Lithuanians,
but back then none of us could envisage such a situation that the Client will have a direct contact with translators and will virtually highjack or steal them.

Such business practices from a major Western Company shocks me greatly (as they does both other involved Agencies).

I'm writing this as a possible warning to other Agencies in Europe and possibly beyond, if the story rings a bell for you, please contact me
directly for more details.

Uldis


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:27
German to English
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Unethical business by a major Western client (went straight to translators) Jun 1, 2005

Did the client also sign an undertaking not to contact the translators directly?

If not, there is no legal reason and arguably no ethical reason why they should not, and the blame lies solely with the translators.

Did the undertaking signed by the translators include a time limit and state the penalties for violation? If not, it may not be valid in some jurisdictions.

Marc


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 02:27
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do not and can not blame the translators Jun 1, 2005

MarcPrior wrote:
Did the client also sign an undertaking not to contact the translators directly?


AFAIK, no. He signed an Agreement not to work with my client's clients (that is, e.g., me) overstepping our Lithuanian Partner. Our Client, in turn, was Lithuanian Agency.
Obviously you can organize and coordinate a team for a years long specific, often very urgent, projects only if you’re situated locally, know your translators and can coordinate all on a daily (and often nightly) bases. Therefore I do not consider the scheme Direct Client- 2 Agencies in a row- team of translators superfluous.


If not, there is no legal reason and arguably no ethical reason why they should not, and the blame lies solely with the translators.


Cannot agree there. Believe me, our translators are very nice people and we have very good relations with them. But how can I blame them, if:

1. They are not legally bound to *NOT* work with the final client directly (years ago when signing Agreements we just didn't envisage situation they will ever meet).
As I already told, the meeting by translators in a rather categorical form was demanded by the End Client on pretext of teaching them the new version of the software.

2. It was no translators’ initiative and for 2 months they just didn't understood what's going on, they even didn't know we and Lithuanian Agency were not even informed at all about current jobs (using various foolish pretexts I asked them to repost to me the job sent by a Final Client only to them)- after all it was we who still paid them regularly for a job done. We ourselves have not yet received money for these jobs.

3. It was the final client who announced to Lithuanian Agency that in future he will work with Latvian and Estonian translators directly and *IN NO WAY* via our Agencies. (Couldn’t be applied to Lithuania, as there the translators are Agency’s own and thus covered by the Agreement).
I was the one who brought the news to our translator team. I couldn’t ask them to refuse, because obviously the amount of money they will get will rise times- if they follow my advice mentioned below.


Did the undertaking signed by the translators include a time limit and state the penalties for violation? If not, it may not be valid in some jurisdictions.
Marc


I have no legal case there, I know. Such a situation just couldn’t be envisaged. (Yeah, we all know better after the fight has ended). But, as I already said- I cannot blame the team if they will accept to work for a Direct Client directly (and I believe they will)- after all the wage difference that way is significant enough.
However, I cannot believe the End Client never has heard anything about Business Ethics and believes himself he has acted fairly.

And after being in such a foolish situation for a last few months, we will not even consider working for the particular End Client even if he begged. And the last, but not least- the Agreements and prices we had have been set and agreed upon more than a year *before* we accessed EU. Since then situation have changed dramatically and I couldn’t resist the pleasure to inform our team what kind of prices they should ask for now. If the team holds out, I believe they will get them (and I will be glad for them), if the Final Client will not agree to that, he will find himself back in a square 1- from where we started almost 3 years ago. No way to quickly replace people who have worked on his products for a few years and used specific software. Actually, taking into account general shortage of (professional) translators in Baltic States, no way at all. I wouldn’t like to find myself in our End Client’s shoes right now

Uldis


[Edited at 2005-06-10 15:41]


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